Fired or resigned? In this WH, nobody knows

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has repeatedly insisted that the White House fired him from his job at the department. The White House says Shulkin resigned. If he resigned, the White House should have his resignation letter.

When Donald Trump announced on Twitter last week that Shulkin would depart the agency and that a Defense Department official, Robert Wilkie, would serve as acting secretary, he side-stepped Shulkin’s deputy, Thomas Bowman, who was next in the line of succession. Given the lengthy process for Senate confirmation, Wilkie could serve in an interim capacity for months should Wilkes want the job permanently.

Trump nominated White House physician Ronny Jackson to become the VA’s next secretary, but lawmakers and veterans’ groups have raised questions about whether or not he has the right experience to lead the government’s second largest bureaucracy. [Will the chief janitor at the White House be the next secretary in charge of infrastructure?] There are allegations about nominee Jackson’s questionable behavior including excessive drinking [even on the job], overprescribing drugs and a “toxic” work environment under his leadership. Hearings into Jackson’s appointment has been delayed because of the allegations.

Jackson drunkenly banged on a woman’s hotel door on an overseas trip and was known as “the candy man” inside the White House, according to a senator.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders defended Jackson’s experience calling him a “very highly qualified, highly respected person in the military and the medical community.” Sanders suggested that Jackson’s current position as the White House physician meant that he had been more thoroughly vetted than other Cabinet nominees.

But in the end, Jackson withdrew his nomination. Jackson slammed allegations of improper behavior leveled against him as “completely false and fabricated.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee have voted against Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state which would lead the committee to report out his nomination without a favorable recommendation. Pompeo may still have enough votes to barely get approved for the position as one Democrat had agreed to vote in his favor.

Trump tweeted “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before.” Hello. There is something called democracy. What Trump is saying is vote for someone who may or may not be appropriate for the job.

Remember the individual who as seeking some legal job in the government and yet never tried a case or knew some basic terminology?

Trump’s pick to replace Pompeo leading the CIA, Gina Haspel, isn’t scheduled to have her confirmation hearing until May 9, but late last week the agency declassified an internal memo that absolves Haspel of responsibility for destroying videotapes showing the waterboarding of terrorism suspects in 2005, an issue that’s been a key sticking point for senators weighing her confirmation.

In the end, the Senate approved Pompeo’s nomination as the next secretary of state on Thursday, installing the former CIA Director as the nation’s top diplomat at a time when several high stakes negotiations are underway around the globe. With a 57-42 vote, Trump can’t whine about the lack of Democrats approving. Just days before Trump tweeted [of course] “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people….”

Trump twice gave James Comey an alibi for why a salacious report about the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow couldn’t be true: He never even spent the night in Russia during that trip, Trump told the former FBI director, according to Comey’s memos about the conversations. Trump said the Moscow trip was so quick that his head never hit a pillow — even for one night.

Trump flew to Moscow on a Bombardier Global 5000 private jet owned by Phil Ruffin, his partner in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas in the morning of November 8, 2014 and landed at Vnukovo airport early morning. He attended a birthday part of Miss Universe pageant’s host and developer Aras Agalarov followed by the pageant and after-party. Trump even tweeted “I just got back from Russia-learned lots & lots. Moscow is a very interesting and amazing place!”

Trump acknowledged for the first time that his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is representing him with regards to legal matters involving Stormy Daniels, the porn star who says she had an affair with Trump. The revelation came after Cohen asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in the matter. Cohen filed court papers indicating he would assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in the Daniels case. The case has been put on hold for 90 days.

Trump distanced himself from his personal attorney, whom Trump said has overseen “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work. If so, the President may have inadvertently boosted the arguments of prosecutors who have said that communications between the two men shouldn’t be considered confidential under attorney-client privilege provisions.

Prosecutors have argued in federal court that because Cohen has few clients and has done little legal work, there wouldn’t be a lot of privileged information in documents seized by the FBI earlier this month.

Trump insists he “won’t be involved” in any attempt to interfere with the investigation into Russian election meddling but “I may change my mind at some point, because what’s going on is a disgrace.”

Trump is increasingly relying on his personal cell phone to contact outside advisers as Trump returns to the free-wheeling mode of operation that characterized the earliest days of his administration. Part of chief of staff John Kelly’s job was to restrict who Trump contacts and who contacts him. Now by using his cell phone, he is bypassing Kelly. Maybe even to push Kelly out or at least Trump doesn’t want Kelly to know who he’s talking to.

Trump said North Korean dictator “Kim Jong Un, he really has been very open and I think very honourable from everything we’re seeing.” The same man he berated by calling him “Little Rocket Man”. Honorable? Him and his father have consistently broke deals that were approved by all parties. Trump has threatened to deliver “fire and fury” upon North Korea and taunted Kim Jung Un on Twitter that his nuclear “button” was larger than the one in Pyongyang.

Sanders said that the US goal was the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea would probably accept not developing any new nuclear weapons but not accept losing the weapons they currently have.

Republicans won the special election in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, but once again Democrats have over performed in a deep red district, in another sign the national environment is in the their favor. Republican Debbie Lesko won over Democrat Hiral Tipirneni by about a 5-point margin. But in 2016, Trump won by a 21 point margin.

Trump tweeted “Congratulations to Republican Debbie Lesko on her big win in the Special Election for Arizona House seat. Debbie will do a Great Job! Press is so silent.” Press wasn’t silent – more like Lesko was expected to win in a safe seat. Was only a big win because she could of easily lost if there was a scandal [like Roy Moore] but she was clean.

Trump tweeted ” Arizona, please get out today and vote @DebbieLesko for Congress in #AZ08. Strong on Border, Immigration and Crime. Great on the Military….” That sounds like what he wants, not what she is running for. Surprised no Trump Wall mentioned or it would be obvious it was what he wants.

Is Trump plagiarizing himself? In another tweet, he said “@MarshaBlackburn is a wonderful woman who has always been there when we have needed her. Great on the Military, Border Security and Crime.” Look at the previous tweet quote.

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration must resume DACA, a program that has shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. It would also require the administration to accept requests from first-time applicants for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

After Kanye West launched an ongoing series of tweets about his admiration of Donald Trump calling him “my brother”, he sort of retracted by saying “I don’t agree with everything Trump does.” However, he did get his hat signed. Trump then tweeted “Kanye West has performed a great service to the Black Community.” Like what service?

Trump tweeted “The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?” Maybe either because of your comments or the fact that sporting events and politics shouldn’t mix or maybe because soccer [football] is bigger elsewhere.

Trump tweeted “Kim Strassel of the WSJ just said, after reviewing the dumb Comey Memos, ‘you got to ask, what was the purpose of the Special Counsel? There’s no there there.’ Dan Henninger of the WSJ said Memos would show that this would be one of the weakest obstruction cases ever brought!” Are they [practicing] lawyers? Probably just Trump loving reporters.

Trump admitted on Fox News that he’s been too busy to get a birthday gift for his wife, first lady Melania Trump, who turned 48 years old this week. Trump added that he did get the first lady “a beautiful card and some beautiful flowers.” [Of course actually bought by someone else. Did he actually pay?]

Trump tweeted “I would rather deal just with France. The [European] Union is very tough for us. They have trade barriers that are unacceptable.” Is there anything acceptable to him?

As part of the fallout from Trump’s tariff increases on steel and aluminum, prices for everything from razor blades to pop/soda will be increasing up to 30% this year.

A former Cambridge Analytica director claims that during the 2016 election campaign, the company had exclusive access to user data from breitbart.com – former chief of staff Stephen Bannon’s web site.

The Washington Post reported that only two companies still sell Trump-branded products, down from 19 listed by Trump in 2015. A Trump cologne, one of his few remaining items, costs $9.99 an ounce, marked down from $42.

Canadian singer Shania Twain “apologize to anybody I have offended in a recent interview with the Guardian” where she said she would of voted for Trump if she was an American.

“I can die happy now with Trump Job performance,” stated Mary Matalin and tweeted by Trump. “A great overall President, stunning!” Of course she works with the Republican Party. If he was doing so well, wouldn’t these comments be more often?

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Windows 10 spring update to finally be released

What was supposed to be the Windows 10 Spring Creators Update a month ago is now called Windows 10 April 2018 Update and will be released on Monday.

Those with highly compatible systems will begin to get notified on May 7th about build 17134.

The feature update is still also called Redstone 4 and surprisingly v1803.

 

 

Could the GOP lose both House and Senate?

It’s possible.

Just over 6 months away from the US mid-term elections and things are not looking good for Donald Trump.

In the latest special election, the Republican candidate won by just 5% in an area of Arizona that is heavily Republican. Republicans won that same area by 21% in the last election in 2016. The winner had no scandals to hurt her chances.

In 2018 Tennessee Senate race to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Bob Corker, where Trump won by 61% in 2016, current polls have Democrat candidate, Phil Bredesen, who was re-elected in 2006 with 69% of the vote, leading the Republican challenger Marsha Blackburn anywhere from a 3% to a 10% lead.

Even now, Trump is starting to help Blackburn with tweeting with a vote 6+ months away.

In 9 special elections in 2017 and 2018 [8 in the House and 1 in the Senate], the Democrats gained points in every election. While they still lost in some that were heaving Republican strongholds, they made quite a bit of ground averaging about 17 points increase.

Remember that the democrats won seats in Arizona and Pennsylvania – both previously Republican strongholds. Both also had controversial candidates – remember Roy Moore?

The Republicans thought they could have a cushy lead as most of those up for re-election in the senate are Democrats with some in states won by Trump in 2016. But with the major loses in seats and Republican voters, the GOP could be heading to a big defeat in November.

Even now, in the House, the GOP have a sizable lead but with so many toss up races leaning towards the Democrats – let alone quite a few Republican leaning seats – the House could switch over to Democrats.

If the Democrats take over the House, it will be difficult for Trump to pass anything. If they take both, Trump will be a lame duck President.

This could further cause problems for Trump as it could increase chances of impeachment.

 

Comey vs Trump, round 2

Former FBI Director, James Comey, cited “some evidence of obstruction of justice” in Trump’s actions and speculated that Russians might have dirt on Donald Trump. Does that include the “Pee Tape”?

Trump said in a tweet that Comey was not fired because of the Russia investigation — a statement directly at odds with his own comments on Comey’s dismissal. However, Trump had told NBC News last year that he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire Comey saying “regardless of (Rosenstein’s) recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

Trump tweeted “Comey drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her (lied in Congress to Senator G), then based his decisions on her poll numbers. Disgruntled, he, [Andrew] McCabe, and the others, committed many crimes!” Wonder how he got his information and which crimes for which Comey hasn’t been arrested for. He also tweeted that Comey “will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!” I will like to see how that is measured.

Trump tweeted “Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe. In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!” Of course it makes no sense. You don’t investigate your future boss in public just so that you can get yourself a job with her.

Counselor to Trump, Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway, seems to be pushing her vision that FBI is a mess with Comey, McCabe and basically the rest of the FBI.

Interesting to note that Sanders said in November 2016 “When you’re attacking FBI agents because you’re under criminal investigation, you’re losing.” Then 15 months later she said “Former FBI Director Comey is a disgraced hack and a liar.” So she’s a loser like her boss. Whom would of through that.

A recent ABC News poll showed that Americans found Comey more believable than Trump, by a margin of 48% to 32%. If the fierce campaign by Trump world to discredit the former FBI director’s book fails to shift that number, it could suggest that the President is in for lasting political damage.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t believe Trump will fire special counsel Robert Mueller, adding he doesn’t want legislation on the issue. A bipartisan group introduced the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which protects Mueller, including ensure that the special counsel can only be fired for “good cause” by a senior Justice Department official. Several GOP senators saying the bill is unconstitutional. Others said it’s simply not good politics to try and tell Trump what to do.

Trump’s personal attorney Cohen used the same Delaware limited liability company to facilitate payments to two women. Essential Consultants LLC was used for the partial payment of a $250,000 fee paid to Cohen for negotiating a non-disclosure agreement with a former Playboy model who claimed she was impregnated by Elliott Broidy, a venture capitalist and former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The former Playboy model’s lawyer, Keith Davidson, is also represented former adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

Essential Consultants was also used to pay $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, to prevent her from speaking publicly about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. It was partly these payments that led authorities to raid Cohen’s home, office and hotel.

In 2013, Cohen also tamped down a developing US Weekly magazine story about an alleged affair between Donald Trump Jr., who was a judge on his father’s NBC show “Celebrity Apprentice,” and Aubrey O’Day, a contestant on the show.

A judge ordered Cohen’s attorney to reveal Cohen’s third client [aside from Trump and Broidy] which is Fox News anchor Sean Hannity.

Cohen’s lawyers have called the raid “completely unprecedented” and asked the judge to let their lawyers review the documents or put in place a special master to comb through the seized material and separate communications that should be protected by attorney client privilege. Sounding Trump-ish the lawyers said “This is perhaps the most highly publicized search warrant in the history of recent American criminal jurisprudence….”

After Cohen was forced to reveal that Fox host Sean Hannity was his third client, weirdly, Hannity explicitly stated that he was never represented by nor had he ever retained Cohen and implied that his own exchanges with Cohen did not entail the silencing of any alleged sexual partner.

To get the search warrant in the first place for Cohen’s places, the government had to have convinced the court that Cohen and his so-called clients were not actually in an attorney-client relationship, and therefore their conversations were not privileged. Hannity isn’t asserting the privilege, so Cohen lacks any basis not to disclose the information or to prevent the government from looking at any communications between himself and Hannity.

The Democratic National Committee is suing the Trump campaign, Russia, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and several associates of Trump alleging a grand racketeering, hacking and fraudulent conspiracy that harmed Democrats through WikiLeaks’ publication of internal party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Those named in the lawsuit include several top Trump advisers who attended the now-infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and others.

The 66-page lawsuit lays out how the Trumps curried favor in Russia through their family business, and then Russia allegedly worked with Trump advisers before the presidential election to disseminate the spoils from a cyberattack of the DNC.

Trump tweeted “So funny, the Democrats have sued the Republicans for Winning.” Am I missing something. Last I checked he won the last election. In the past, Trump has referenced the DNC’s computer servers in an attempt to raise questions over Democrats’ claims that Russians hacked DNC computer systems in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Trump tweeted “Russia and China are playing the Currency Devaluation game as the U.S. keeps raising interest rates. Not acceptable!” Well, don’t raise the rates! But just days before, the Treasury Department published a report saying that no US trading partner is manipulating its exchange rate. Just so happens Trump is at odds with both countries recently.

Before the presidential election, Trump vowed to label China a currency manipulator on Day 1 of his administration. But he’s repeatedly backed away from that promise. In May 2017, in fact, he said China had stopped manipulating its currency, and he personally took the credit.

In the continuing tit-for-tat trade war, China’s Commerce Ministry said that customs officers will charge importers a fee of about 179% on US sorghum after an investigation found the shipments were unfairly subsidized and damaging Chinese producers. Sorghum is a grain that is used to feed livestock and make a liquor that’s very popular with Chinese drinkers. This will affect Kansas, a state that backs Trump. China’s imports of the crop were worth about $960 million last year.

After The US, France and the UK’s joint mission to bomb chemical factories and some military installations in Syria, Trump tweeted “Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!” We will see if it is really accomplished when [and if] Syria uses chemical weapons soon. George W. Bush said mission accomplished and yet the US is still in Iraq.

The UK has accused Syria and Russia of preventing independent chemical weapons experts [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] from entering the city of Douma, hit by a suspected gas attack that Western leaders have blamed on the Syrian government. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the OPCW team’s arrival was hampered by the weekend air strikes. If he called the accusations “groundless”, then why would he stop OPCW from entering the area to prove that he is right – unless Syria or Russia is removing evidence.

US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, got ahead of Trump’s decision-making when she hit the Sunday talk show circuit and said the US would level new sanctions the next day targeting Russian companies that facilitated the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program. The sanctions have yet to come. After a meeting a couple of days prior, others also thought there would be more sanctions announced in the coming days but Haley did not clear her talking points about the sanctions with other administration officials.

After Nikki Haley announced that more sanctions were coming to Russia and the Trump administration said that wasn’t true, Trump personally made the decision to abandon plans to impose more sanctions on Russia for supporting Syria’s chemical weapons attack on civilians. The Trump administration informed the Russian government there won’t be an additional round of sanctions.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow’s comment that “there might have been some momentary confusion” from the UN ambassador prompted a sharp rebuttal where Haley said “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow took back the comment. But after being one of the few bright spots in administration, whether this drops her in Trump’s rankings of those he can trust and work with.

Interesting that in a conversation between Trump and Vladimir Poutine, Poutine says that Russia has some of the most beautiful hookers. Why would that come up unless Poutine offered or Trump asked?

“If I think that if it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful we’re not going to go. If the meeting when I’m there is not fruitful I will respectfully leave the meeting,” said Trump at a news conference when asked about his impending meeting with Kim Jun Un. His way of having a back door in case he decides not to have the meeting.

Trump tweeted “While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don’t like the deal for the United States. Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers. Look how bad WTO is to U.S.” Wondering if he knows that the WTO is not a trading pact and WTO may have been bad for the US only because the US slams countries with ridiculous tariffs only to see the WTO say it isn’t right. Didn’t he recently say he wanted to get back into the TPP?

Trump was upset that the US had expelled 60 Russian diplomats, believing the US would match the number of diplomats expelled by individual European countries — not as a whole. Last year he spoke in Pennsylvania during the same event.

The Trump campaign announced that he will hold a campaign rally in Washington Township in Michigan on April 28 while the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner will be going on in Washington.

Michael Catanzaro, adviser for energy and environmental policy, will be returning to the law and lobbying firm where he previously worked. Catanzaro had headed domestic energy issues for the White House’s National Economic Council.

Pittsburgh Police Cmdr. Victor Joseph reportedly sent an email instructing Major Crimes detectives to bring full uniforms and riot gear to work “until further notice” should Trump fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. A group has called for a “Nobody is Above the Law” rally in Pittsburgh if Mueller gets fired.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush passes away. And what does Trump tweet about? Comey, someone who he says never existed [attacked Stormy Daniels], and sanctuary cities in California. Not a condolence to the family. But he did comment verbally. In a White House statement “To avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service, President Trump will not attend”. Surprised? Added security? 3 former Presidents will be there.

Trump finally landed new personal lawyers in the newly enlisted lawyers from the firm Spears & Imes in New York. As well, Rudy Giuliani is joining Trump’s personal legal team according to Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow but his role on the legal team will be “limited.” Giuliani said his focus will be on interfacing with special counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia probe.

In Congress, those leaving office without a clear next political step tend to come from places where Trump is less popular. On the flip side, Republicans are more likely to leave the House to seek higher office if Trump was more popular in their districts. So far, twenty-five Republicans have announced they will retire and leave Congress and 13 have announced they will leave Congress to run for another office.

Mike Pence’s pick for his national security adviser, Jon Lerner, has withdrawn after his hiring created tensions in the administration. There was a report that Trump attempted to block Pence from hiring Lerner because of his “never Trump” views.

Trump tweeted “Just hit 50% in the Rasmussen Poll, much higher than President Obama at same point.” Except Rasmussen is the least reliable poll and a right wing leaning pollster. He’s happy at 50%?

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke claims that “I’m a geologist… A geologist will tell you there is little, if any, oil and gas.” In his autobiography, Zinke wrote that he majored in geology at the University of Oregon. But Zinke, however, has never held a job as a geologist.

Several geologists have flagged his comments as disingenuous, saying that someone with a 34-year-old degree who never worked in the field is not considered a geologist. He is not a member of the American Institute of Professional Geologists or the Association of State Boards of Geologists.

The Senate recently passed a banking bill that would shield large regional banks from tough scrutiny that requires them to sit on extra cash to weather the next financial storm. Regional banks could reward shareholders with up to $53 billion if Congress rolls back Dodd-Frank, which refers to a comprehensive and complicated piece of financial regulation born out of the Great Recession of 2008.

More than one-fifth of the $3.9 million that President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign has spent this year has gone to legal fees, the campaign’s latest quarterly Federal Election Commission filing shows. Trump’s campaign raised $10.1 million in 2018’s first three months and has $28.3 million in the bank.

The campaign spent another $58,000 on costs listed as “rent” divided between three recipients: Trump Plaza, Trump Restaurants and Trump Tower. $58,000. That’s it?

 

Windows 10 spring update still delayed

Microsoft discovered a serious flaw for the feature update [the one that is released every 6 months and takes usually over an hour and multiple reboots] to Windows 10. Because of the flaw, the update with the fix will not be released to the public until early May at the earliest [depending on current testing].

The current tested build is 17134.1. A potential new name is Windows 10 April 2018 Update.

 

Notable people who left Trump’s administration

Notable firings and resignations from President Donald Trump’s White House since he took office on Jan. 20, 2017:

April 12, 2018: Deputy national security adviser Ricky Waddell

April 11, 2018: Deputy national security adviser Nadia Schadlow

April 10, 2018: Homeland security adviser Tom Bossert

April 8, 2018: National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton

March 28, 2018: Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin

March 22, 2018: National security adviser H.R. McMaster

March 13, 2018: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

March 12, 2018: Special assistant and personal aide to the president John McEntee

March 6, 2018: Economic adviser Gary Cohn

Feb. 28, 2018: Communications director Hope Hicks

Feb. 27: Deputy communications director Josh Raffel

Feb. 7, 2018: Staff secretary Rob Porter

Dec. 13, 2017: Communications director for the White House Office of Public Liaison Omarosa Manigault Newman

Dec. 8, 2017: Deputy national security adviser Dina Powell

Sept. 29, 2017: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price

Aug. 25, 2017: National security aide Sebastian Gorka

Aug. 18, 2017: Chief strategist Steve Bannon

July 31, 2017: Communications director Anthony Scaramucci

July 28, 2017: Chief of staff Reince Priebus

July 21, 2017: Press secretary Sean Spicer

May 30, 2017: Communications director Michael Dubke

May 9, 2017: FBI Director James Comey

March 30, 2017: Deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh

Feb. 13, 2017: National security adviser Michael Flynn

To be constantly updated. 🙂

 

 

Wow! What a week for Trump

The FBI raided the offices and home of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, law enforcement sources said, in a dramatic new development in a series of probes involving close Trump associates. Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen M. Ryan, said that US prosecutors conducted a search that was partly a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.

“I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man — and it’s a disgraceful situation,” he said. “It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time.” Except they didn’t break in – they had warrants. Privileged communication between Cohen and Cohen’s clients were seized. FBI agents seized emails, tax documents and business records.

The FBI and US Attorney’s office also sought any emails between former White House communications director Hope Hicks and Cohen about a false and misleading account that Trump helped prepare of a June 9, 2016, meeting between Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner and a group of Russians who had promised “dirt” on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Investigators were looking into whether Cohen committed bank fraud or violated campaign finance law, which all appeared to stem from the Stormy Daniels payment. Agents were also looking for records of payments to two women who say they had affairs Trump and for information on the role of the publisher of the National Enquirer in keeping one of the women quiet.

After the FBI raided Cohen’s office, Trump tweeted the following morning “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!” and “Attorney-client privilege is dead!”

George Conway, wife of Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway said that the raid on Cohen is legal. “There are occasions when effective law enforcement may require the issuance of a search warrant for the premises of an attorney who is a subject of an investigation, and who also is or may be engaged in the practice of law on behalf of clients,” the Justice Department’s website reads.

George Conway is a critic of Trump on Twitter but he has publicly maintained his support for Trump and his policies in public interviews and postings. In March, Conway deleted a number of previous tweets critical of the president amid speculation that Kellyanne Conway was under consideration to take over as White House communications director.

Cohen’s defense team could argue that the payment was kept quiet so that the affair would not be found out by Melania Trump which could put Trump’s marriage [further] on the rocks.

Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders, actually like she usually does, said “I’m not sure” when asked if Michael Cohen is still Trump’s attorney. She also said that “I’m not going to get into specific details” when asked if Tom Bossert was pushed out [fired] or resigned.

Trump tweeted “Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter).” More fake tweeting. The Republicans control congress. So how does the opposition “head up” the investigation especially from a Republican [Rod Rosenstein] when asked Republican Mueller to investigate?

He also tweeted “Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.” Except then, the world was on the brink of a nuclear war. Did he ever hear of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Trump tweeted “If I wanted to fire Robert Mueller in December, as reported by the Failing New York Times, I would have fired him….” Of course what he says and what he does are to different things. His supporters are mostly telling him not to fire Mueller but he does things his way.

Sanders made clear that Trump was wary of investigatory overreach, saying, “He has a very deep concern about the direction that the special counsel and other investigations have taken.” Problem is that Trump may get into further trouble [like Richard Nixon did] by interfering with an investigation that involves him [at least indirectly].

A bipartisan group of senators [2 from each party] just introduced legislation that would make it harder for special counsel Mueller to be fired for investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The act protects Mueller and ensures that the Special Counsel can only be fired for “good cause” by a senior Justice Department official. The news comes after Sanders said publicly that Trump believes he has the power to fire Mueller.

With the upcoming book from former FBI director James Comey, “A Higher Loyalty”, coming out soon, the mudslinging has begun.

Trump blasted Comey as an “untruthful slime ball,” saying, “It was my great honour to fire James Comey!” Trump has assailed Comey as a “showboat” and a “liar.” [Note: He used the British spelling of “honor”. Odd.]

Trump tweeted ” He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH.” But of course, no proof there.

Comey said Trump is “untethered to truth,” and describes him as fixated in the early days of his presidency on having the FBI debunk salacious rumours he said were untrue but that could distress his wife. Comey compares Trump to a mafia don and calls his leadership of the country “ego driven and about personal loyalty.”

He casts Trump as a mobster-like figure who sought to blur the line between law enforcement and politics and tried to pressure him personally regarding his investigation into Russian election interference.

Sanders questioned Comey’s credibility in a tweet and Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway said Comey took “unnecessary, immature pot shots.” The Republican National Committee is poised to lead the pushback effort against Comey by launching a website and supplying surrogates with talking points that question his credibility.

Comey’s book will be heavily scrutinized by Trump’s legal team looking for any inconsistencies between it and his public testimony, under oath, before Congress.

MoveOn claims it has 300,000 people who would protest if Mueller is fired. They could also protest if Trump pardons key witnesses in the Russia investigation or if he fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or repealed the regulations that established the office of the special counsel.

White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert was pushed out [supposedly] of his position by the newly installed national security adviser John Bolton. There was no indication that Bossert planned to resign in recent days. Supposedly while Bolton did not have a personal problem with Bossert, he wanted to put his own team in place.

In 2013, as the Obama administration was weighing a response to the Syrian government after it violated President Barack Obama’s “red line” for its use of chemical weapons, Trump argued that the US should “stay the hell out of Syria” and criticized the administration for “broadcasting” its strategy. So what does Trump do in 2018? He advertises that he will probably attack Syria and the US is still in Syria after 15 months of this administration with no official announcement of leaving. “We no longer tell our enemies our plans” said Trump in the State of the Union address.

His tweet [once again] caused the White house staff off guard. Even sanders had to backtrack giving an excuse that he didn’t mean plans were just for a missile attack but other options. How else would you interpret the tweet “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'”

It took over 48 hours before Trump backtracked and tweeted “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place.” His way of fixing his own mistakes.

Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, continues to have ethics issues.

The Office of Government Ethics committee confirmed that it has expanded its review of Pruitt’s travel spending to now include ethical questions surrounding his bargain $50-a-night rental of a Capitol Hill condo tied to a fossil fuels lobbyist. They also has issued a letter to EPA demanding documents related to the condo rental. And it reports that at least five agency officials faced retaliation after questioning Pruitt’s outsized spending for travel, unprecedented security precautions and pricey office furniture.

EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins is now conducting at least five investigative audits related to Pruitt, including a previously undisclosed probe into questionable spending by his swollen security detail.

The Associated Press reported that the 20-member team tasked with providing day-and-night protection for Pruitt had racked up salary, overtime and travel expenses approaching $3 million. Pruitt was at the White House recently for a cabinet meeting and was seated at the far end of the table from Trump.

While Pruitt denied it, the former deputy chief of staff of the EPA, Kevin Chmielewski, who is currently on unpaid leave from the agency after raising concerns about Pruitt’s travel practices, said Pruitt new about the raises.

Trump stepped up his long-running battle with Amazon, ordering a federal task force to investigate the Postal Service’s finances. The executive order does not mention Amazon by name, but Amazon is the subtext. The Postal Service says the law requires that such negotiated contracts as Amazon’s must cover the Postal Service’s costs and that postal regulators have studied the contract and approved it.

Eight months before the company that owns the National Enquirer paid $150,000 to a former Playboy Playmate, Karen McDougal, who claimed she’d had an affair with Trump, the tabloid’s parent made a $30,000 payment to a less famous individual: a former doorman at one of the real estate mogul’s New York City buildings. It was a contract that effectively prevented him from going public with a juicy tale that might hurt Trump’s campaign for president. A rumor the doorman heard about Trump’s sex life is that Trump had fathered a child with an employee at Trump World Tower.

The company [American Media Inc.] has said it paid McDougal to be a columnist for an AMI-published fitness magazine. If so, why pay so much and never use her in the magazine? “Once she’s part of the company, then on the outside she can’t be bashing Trump and American Media,” said AMI’s publisher, David Pecker, an unabashed Trump supporter. Her contact specifically calls her not to bash Trump? Wasn’t she hired for a fitness magazine and not for politics?

“…Trump will not attend the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru or travel to Bogota, Colombia, as originally scheduled,” press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said in a statement. He will supposedly concentrate on his response to Syria’s attacks.

China has filed a World Trade Organization complaint challenging Trump’s tariff hike on imported steel and aluminum which violate international trade rules. Trump also has threatened to increase duties on $50 billion of Chinese goods in a separate conflict over technology policy. [The US led in WTO trade disputes filed against them every year.]

Trump has directed his top trade and economic advisers to take a fresh look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement he withdrew from in his first week in office.

The number of House Republicans who will not seek re-election has grown to 43 with speaker Paul Ryan retiring. Democrats are at 19. Could this be because of Trump or maybe afraid they won’t get elected because trump is in charge. For the Republicans, this is easily the most that won’t be back and there are still 7 months where further Republicans can leave. In 2016, 29 Republicans left, in 2014 31 left. From the last 6 election periods, Republicans still tend to leave as the elections get closer. So there could be further departures.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo nomination for secretary of state could stall in the senate. If three members, who sit on a committee, ultimately vote “no,” then Pompeo won’t have enough votes to win a favorable recommendation from the committee. There are no instances of a secretary of state nominee receiving an unfavorable committee vote since 1925.

A fire occurred in the Trump Tower in New York City. Both Trump [“well built building” even though no sprinklers] and son Eric tweeted thanking the New York fire department. This was before the news that broke out that an apartment owner died. No tweet about that or 6 fire fighters were injured.

The Congressional Budget Office now projects trillion-dollar deficits will start in 2020, two years ahead of what it projected just 10 months ago, although it will come close [$981 billion] by next year. By 2028, it expects the deficit to top $1.5 trillion. The increase is thanks largely to the trillions in tax cuts passed by Republicans and a pricey two-year budget deal recently passed by both parties.